A team of 13- and 14-year-old football players has been removed from its youth league in Rhode Island after the team’s coach put a 19-year-old into a game.
The Capital City Buccaneers of Providence, R.I., has been banned from the Rhode Island Pre-Teen League, team founder Alexandra Diaz told The Boston Globe.
“It’s devastating because the kids worked so hard, and one mistake caused the whole organization to suffer,” Diaz, who is in charge of two youth football teams, told the newspaper.
Diaz fired the coach once she learned that he put in the 19-year-old brother of one of the Buccaneer players toward the end of their game Saturday in Scituate, R.I., against the Tri Town Titans. The 19-year-old was reportedly involved in two or three plays during the fourth quarter of the Buccaneers’ 34-9 loss before he was kicked out.
“When I noticed, I just ran onto the field,” Diaz told the newspaper. “I took the actions I needed to take. (The coach) made a horrible decision in the moment in time. I fired the coach, and I took my kids’ jerseys off their backs and told them that their season is over.”
Nelson Pedro, an executive with the Rhode Island Pre-Teen League who also is president of the Tri Town Titans, was at the game and noticed the 19-year-old suiting up on the sidelines at halftime.
“I called over and said I wanted to see the certification cards,” Pedro told the North Kingstown Patch. No card could be found, and because of the player's size and apparent age, the officials stopped the game and had the player removed, the Patch reported.
Pedro said the Buccaneers, who had one game left this season, can reapply with the league next year. They are not listed on the league’s website.
“We certainly didn’t want to come to this decision and we feel terrible about it, but it’s a decision that had to be made for the safety of the rest of the league,” Pedro told Providence TV station WPRI.
Both Buccaneers teams and its cheerleading squad were removed from the league. The Buccaneers’ other team had had trouble fielding a complete team during the season and forfeited three games, Pedro told WPRI. The incident involving the 19-year-old, Pedro added, was the final straw.